The thought of being hit by a car while crossing the street or walking on the sidewalk is frightening — thousands of pounds of metal and machinery versus a human body is hardly a fair match. It should come as no surprise that pedestrian accidents often result in extremely severe injuries or death. Unfortunately, deaths from pedestrian accidents are on the rise nationwide, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
While some pedestrians contribute to accidents by crossing outside of designated crosswalks and intersections, many drivers share a significant portion of the blame for not watching the road carefully for pedestrians, particularly at night. Whatever the cause, any traffic fatality is a tragedy for the victim and their loved ones. If you or someone close to you has been hurt in a pedestrian accident, the Roseville pedestrian accident lawyers at The Sevey Law Firm are here to help.
The new IIHS study looked at pedestrian fatality statistics in the United States from 2009 to 2016. The rationale for the starting point was that deaths from pedestrian accidents hit their lowest point in 2009. Overall, the study found a significant 46 percent spike in pedestrian fatalities over the course of just seven years. The death toll for pedestrians in the final year of the study, 2016, was a staggering 5,987.
You may be wondering, is this just due to an increase in accidents, or are accidents becoming deadlier? It could be a bit of both. According to the study, the death rate for pedestrians hit by cars actually jumped by 26 percent between 2010 and 2015. Thus, it appears that at least some of the increase in pedestrian deaths is due to the accidents themselves being more severe. With so many more people dying from pedestrian accidents, it is worth asking where, when, and why they occur, and the IIHS did just that.
One of the most apparent trends identified by the IIHS study was that pedestrian deaths increased more sharply in urban areas than they did in rural areas. Pedestrian death numbers skyrocketed by 54 percent in urban areas during the period studied, compared to 26 percent in rural areas. It is unclear whether this increase is due to increased dangers on congested city streets, or merely the continuing nationwide trend of urban populations growing while rural communities stagnate. Nonetheless, it appears that pedestrians in urban areas are at a greater danger of being killed by negligent drivers.
Another trend IIHS identified is that arterial roads have experienced a far more dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths than highways and rural roads. Arterial roads are large roads designed to take cars out of an area and onto the highway. They are typically the most major roads in their areas, and in many suburban developments, just one or two arterial roads are forced to sustain an incredible amount of traffic. According to the study, pedestrian deaths on arterial roads increased by a horrific 67 percent, compared to a 49 percent increase on highways and a 9 percent increase on local and collector roads.
The middle of the road is always a more dangerous place for pedestrians to cross than intersections and marked crosswalks. This difference in risk is growing larger, according to the IIHS study. During the period studied, pedestrian deaths involving non-intersection crossings shot up 50 percent, compared to a 35 percent increase at intersections. While pedestrians are indeed supposed to cross at intersections or marked crosswalks, they are not automatically presumed to be at fault if they are hit while jaywalking.
The final major finding of the IIHS study was that pedestrian accidents have increased more sharply at night than during the day. During the period studied, there was a 56 percent increase in the number of pedestrians killed in accidents after dark, compared to a 20 percent increase during daylight hours and a 27 percent increase at dawn or dusk. It is certainly harder to see pedestrians in the dark, especially on roads that are poorly lit. Drivers should always be on the lookout for pedestrians on the road, and particularly in marked crosswalks that are not located at major intersections where pedestrians may wrongly assume that drivers can see them and decide to cross.
Pedestrians who are hit by drivers are often killed, but those who are not still often suffer severe injuries, such as broken bones, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Pedestrians who are hit by negligent drivers in California can file a personal injury claim against the driver responsible to recover damages for a number of costs associated with the accident, including:
Sadly, no amount of compensation can bring back a loved one who has lost their lives in a pedestrian accident. As the number of pedestrian deaths increase, more and more families will be faced with the option of bringing a wrongful death claim against the driver responsible to secure fair compensation. Damages in these cases can be a great help to families dealing with the loss of a loved one by helping them with funeral costs and other expenses. A California pedestrian accident attorney can assist victims or families with either type of claim.
Seeing an increase in accidents is tragic in any case, but when the rising tide of pedestrian fatalities claims the life of someone close to you, it is an unspeakable tragedy. No one should ever have to lose a loved one to an unexpected and possibly preventable accident. If you have been injured or if someone you love has been killed in a pedestrian accident, the Roseville pedestrian accident lawyers at The Sevey Law Firm are ready to help you take legal action to get the justice you deserve. For more information on how we can help, call us now at (916) 788-7100.